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Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) re-emerged as a globalized health threat fifteen years ago. There are dozens of RT-PCR assays published. An inventory of the latter was made, and after in silico analysis, two assays were selected for their ability to detect strains belonging to the five CHIKV genetic lineages. They were combined in order to provide a robust assay not affected by genetic point mutations and the resulting Duo CHIKV real-time RT-PCR assay was compared to the two parental single-plex tests against five strains belonging to the five genetic lineages. The Duo CHIKV assay performed equally, or better, in terms of sensitivity, specificity, linearity and signal intensity. Dual-target assays are better suited for viruses having the propensity to evolve into new variants via point mutations or major sequence deletions/insertions. Here, we demonstrated that combining two single systems into a dual-target assay did not impair sensitivity and specificity, and proved a potent diagnostic tool to face a potential emergence of CHIKV variants by newly evolving mutations.

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Unité des Virus Emergents (UVE: Aix Marseille Univ., IRD 190, INSERM 1207, IHU Méditerranée Infection), 13005 Marseille, France.